Every holiday has is its own traditions in our house. At Easter time, we love to color eggs, and have an Easter egg hunt, but one of my favorite traditions is making Italian Easter Bread.
This simple yeast bread is slightly sweet and very easy to make, even for a novice baker!
1 .25oz packet of quick acting yeast
1 1/4 cup of milk
pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups flour (approx)
1 egg beaten w/ 1 teaspoon of water
6 eggs (these eggs should be raw as they will cook in the oven with the bread and you will have perfectly cooked hardboiled eggs)
How To: *note* this can be completed in a stand mixer with a bread hook or just as easily by hand (that is how I prefer to do it)
Start by adding the milk and butter to a small pan and heat just until the butter is melted. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once milk/butter mixture cools mix in a bowl with the yeast, salt, eggs and sugar and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 of the flour and mix until smooth. If you are doing this by hand I find that a rubber spatula works great for incorporating the flour at this point. Continue to mix until the dough looks smooth. Slowly start adding the remaining flour. You may or may not use all of the flour, or you may use more than the 3 1/2 cups. Just add until it forms a firm ball. When it is no longer a sticky mess I find it easiest to add the last of the flour while it is on the counter and knead it in with my hands.
Once the dough has formed a stiff dough place it in a greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough about doubles.
After the dough has risen turn it out onto your work surface and punch it down. Cut it into 12 even sections. Roll each section out until it forms a snake about 15 inches long. Take two of your snakes and braid them together.
From the ropes into circles and pinch the ends together. Place on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Cover with a paper towel and allow to rise for another hour. Once they have about doubled in size again, brush them with the egg wash and add the sprinkles if you want too. Colored sprinkles can give it a nice look too! Gently place the UNCOOKED egg in the center of each circle.
*While the bread will keep for several days while kept on the counter please do not eat the eggs if they have been sitting out for several hours. If you are not going to eat your bread right away store it in a ziplock bag (you can get 3 in a 1 gallon bag) in your refrigerator, but I do suggest eating it with in a day or two.